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Orecchiette with Marinated Eggplant, Burrata and Chiles

July 26, 2010

I love orecchiette, so I’m hard pressed to not make a recipe that calls for it when I see it.  I was worried as I

eggplant pasta with fresh mozzarella

made this that it wouldn’t have enough flavor to it, even though it has marjoram- one of my favorite herbs- chilies and red wine vinegar.  I was a little worried it might taste a little disjointed.  I was wrong to doubt Food & Wine, and especially wrong to doubt the Best New Chef who submitted the recipe.  Somehow the pasta had a great creaminess toAdd an Image it, was really vibrant from the garlic and chilies, and the marjoram gave it that indescribable flavor.  This is a great summer vegetarian pasta dish and if you like marjoram, I’d recommend you make it.  If you’re wondering what burrata is, it’s a small piece of fresh mozarella, like boccioni, but with a creamy center.  I’ve always wanted to try it but couldn’t find it, so used regular boccioni instead.  You have to use fresh marjoram for this recipe…otherwise I won’t be held responsible for the blandness.  This recipe from Food & Wine serves 4 generously.

Ingredients:

4 large Asian eggplants (1 1/2 pounds total), halved lengthwise

3 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

Kosher salt

1/3 c red wine vinegar

2 large garlic cloves, very thinly shaved

3 marjoram sprigs, plus 1 T marjoram leaves, chopped

1/2 t crushed red pepper

1 box dried orecchiette

2 T freshly grated pecorino cheese

1 T chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 pound burrata cheese, halved, creamy filling scooped out (reserve the firmer exterior for another use) or boccioni, cut into quarters

Coarsely grated zest of 1 lemon

Directions:

Place a grill pan over high heat. Brush the cut sides of the halved eggplants with olive oil and season with salt. Grill the eggplants cut side down over moderate heat until lightly charred, about 4 minutes. Turn and continue grilling until just browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Let cool. Dice the eggplants and transfer to a bowl.  Pour the vinegar over the eggplant and toss well.

In a small saucepan, combine the 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the garlic, marjoram sprigs, crushed red pepper and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Bring the oil to a simmer, then pour it over the eggplant and toss. Let stand for 1 hour (I did about about 20 minutes). Discard the marjoram sprigs.

Cook the orecchiette until al dente and drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water.

Place the eggplant in the empty pasta pot and cook over moderate heat, stirring lightly, until hot, about 30 seconds. Add the orecchiette and the reserved cooking water and cook, tossing, for about 30 seconds. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the pecorino, parsley, chopped marjoram leaves and burrata or boccioni.  Spoon into bowls and sprinkle the lemon zest over the pasta.

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